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AU researchers improve efficiency at Victor Insulators
10/24/12

Researchers at the Kazuo Inamori School of Engineering are helping a Rochester-area company improve its manufacturing efficiency.

Because of AU's work, Victor Insulators, a producer of electrical porcelain insulators in Victor, NY, can now machine a greater range of its existing products at an earlier point in the manufacturing process, according to William Carty, a professor of ceramic engineering at the Kazuo Inamori School of Engineering at Alfred University.

"We improved the manufacturing efficiency by machining [more products] in the wet state," Carty said. "This manufacturing efficiency leads to better yields."

“I am extremely proud of the fact that the ceramic engineering expertise of my Alfred University colleagues such as Dr. Carty can still make a significant impact in an industry that would generally be regarded as mature with little room for innovation,” said Matthew Hall,  associate professor of biomaterials and glass science, as well as director of the New York State Center for Advanced Ceramic Technology (CACT).

The ability to machine the clay part earlier leads to fewer manufacturing losses because of product defects. "When machining dry green bodies, there is a greater rate of failure," said Carty.

Victor Insulators makes a wide range of ceramic products.  All are machined before being fired. Some are machined while still wet, while other products are machined dry. 

Products machined in a dry green state (before being fired) are subject to greater cracking because of the materials' increased brittleness when dry.  Products in the wet state retained greater elasticity and are less subject to cracking.

Carty was able to increase the number of products machinable in the wet state by helping Victor Insulators adjust its chemistry during the mixing process.          

Financing for the project was made possible by a combination of support from the CACT, which is funded by NYSTAR, the New York State Division for Science, Technology and Innovation; the New York State Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (NYS TAAC), and Victor Insulators, according to Hall.

The mission of the NYSTAR-funded CACT is to facilitate collaboration between academia and industry with the goal of generating economic impact for New York State companies.  NYSTAAC provides assistance to NYS companies by investing in projects intended to enhance their ability to compete with foreign industries.